Yamina No. 4 candidate Naftali Bennett on Thursday said he and slate leader Ayelet Shaked have an agreement whereby he will have first choice of ministership in coalition negotiations following the September 17 election.
Yamina is an alliance of three right-wing parties: Shaked and Bennett’s New Right, Jewish Home led by Rafi Peretz (Yamina’s No. 2) and National Union led by Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina’s No. 3). But the slate has been defined by its members as a technical bloc designed to ensure none of these parties fall below the 3.25% Knesset threshold, which they might if they had run separately.
In a Thursday interview with Army Radio, Bennett, the former education minister, confirmed that Yamina will split up after entering a right-wing coalition: New Right will become an independent faction, while Jewish Home and National Union will presumably continue to work as a single faction under the banner of Jewish Home, as they have in several recent elections.
“I’m much more moderate [than Peretz and Smotrich] on issues of religion and state,” Bennett noted. Still, he said the factions would certainly continue to cooperate on key issues.
Bennett and Shaked formed New Right as co-leaders ahead of the April election, with Bennett placed at the top of the slate. However, the party failed to pass the electoral threshold and the two found themselves outside the Knesset. When they announced they would run in September’s redo of the national vote, Shaked was named the leader.
Bennett said the two had agreed he would have first pick of which ministry to head, but he added: “We’ll work it out [between us]. I believe she should be the justice minister.”
Shaked was justice minister until April, and has expressed her interest in returning to the role.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on Wednesday issued a statement urging voters not to vote for far-right party Otzma Yehudit, warning such votes would be wasted as the slate has no chance of passing the electoral threshold, at 3.25 percent of the vote.
Bennett also urged right-wing voters not to vote for the party. Otzma Yehudit “certainly won’t pass the electoral threshold,” he said. “I call on the public not to waste votes on a party that won’t pass the threshold.”
In April, Otzma Yehudit was part of a different alliance with Peretz and Smotrich, titled the Union of Right-Wing Parties. However, its first candidate on the slate, Itamar Ben Gvir, was placed at number eight, while the URWP only netted five seats, leaving Ben Gvir outside the legislature. And during talks to form Yamina, Otzma Yehudit and the other factions did not reach an agreement that would include it in the union. Some recent polls have shown Otzma Yehudit only slightly below the electoral threshold.